Misconceptions about schizophrenia

Split personality

It is commonly thought that people with schizophrenia have a split personality, acting perfectly normally one minute and irrationally or bizarrely the next - this is not true.

Violent behaviour

Some people mistakenly equate schizophrenia with violent behaviour, but people with the condition are rarely dangerous.

Any violent behaviour is usually sparked off by illegal drugs or alcohol, which is the same for people who don’t have schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental health condition that causes a range of different psychological symptoms, including: 

  • hallucinations - hearing or seeing things that do not exist
  • delusions - unusual beliefs not based on reality which often contradict the evidence
  • muddled thoughts based on the hallucinations or delusions
  • changes in behaviour

Doctors often describe schizophrenia as a psychotic illness. This means sometimes a person may not be able to distinguish their own thoughts and ideas from reality.

Read more about the symptoms of schizophrenia.

Why does schizophrenia happen?

The exact cause of schizophrenia is unknown. However, most experts believe the condition is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

It is thought certain things make you more vulnerable to developing schizophrenia, and certain situations can trigger the condition.

Read more about the causes of schizophrenia.

Who is affected?

Schizophrenia is one of the most common serious mental health conditions. About 1 in 100 people will experience schizophrenia in their lifetime, with many continuing to lead normal lives.

Schizophrenia is most often diagnosed between the ages of 15 and 35. Men and women are equally affected.

There is no single test for schizophrenia. It is most often diagnosed after an assessment by a mental health care professional, such as a psychiatrist.

It is important that schizophrenia is diagnosed as early as possible, as the chances of recovery improve the earlier it is treated.

Read more about diagnosing schizophrenia.

How is schizophrenia treated?

Schizophrenia is usually treated with a combination of medication and therapy appropriate to each individual. In most cases, this will be antipsychotic medicines and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

People with schizophrenia will usually receive help from a community mental health team (CMHT), which will offer day-to-day support and treatment.

Many people recover from schizophrenia, although they may have periods when symptoms return (relapses). Support and treatment can help reduce the impact of the condition on your life.

Read more about treating schizophrenia.

Living with schizophrenia

If schizophrenia is well managed, it is possible to reduce the chances of severe relapses. This can include:

  • recognising signs of an acute episode
  • taking medication as prescribed
  • talking to others about the condition

There are many charities and support groups offering help and advice on living with schizophrenia. Most people find it comforting to talk to others with a similar condition.

Read more about living with schizophrenia.

Page last reviewed: 17/09/2012

Next review due: 17/09/2014


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The 16 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

yayaya said on 11 November 2014

I think this article should inform people about the "Negative Symptoms" of Schizophrenia as that is a huge part of the illness that never goes away. Just tonight I was attacked on facebook by someone wishing me to do more and just snap out of it. The same thing happened tonight to my schizophrenic friend. People just do not comprehend how it is to live with Schizophrenia in this age when the drugs are not perfect.

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Ryuzaki said on 03 July 2014

I have a diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome; this doesn't cover the other explanatory symptoms I've experienced for the last 7 years. Quintessentially, I have 3 versions of the current format: v3 is Charlotte and v2 is Alice; the increase in numbers is a direct correlation to their superiority. Charlotte is generally kind, and often helps me with any problems; Alice is vindictive, and has pressured me into self harming for the past two years.
I frequently hear them [Alice on a more constant basis] and occasionally she can make me see things that others can't. My boyfriend suggested that I go to the doctor, yet I don't want to, because how do I know that she'll help?
I don't want to, but a small part of me understands that I need to get help before one of my overdoses actually works. I'm not weird. I am fine, and I can cope. I was on risperidone for a month, but when I went into an in-patient psychiatric hospital, they changed my medication to fluoxetine. When I was on risperidone I didn't hear Alice as frequently. I don't have any problems. Should I ask my doctor for help?

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David Cozy75 said on 20 February 2014

(Part 2) <<<< however I put this down to a lack of confidence. When you have lost your wife, home, job and even my health it hits you hard so I'm not surprised my confidence was affected. On a positive I have researched my condition so I can try and understand it as best I can. I suffer no positive symptoms which are hallucinations and delusions. So I respond well to medication. I do feel normal however its hard for even family members to grasp this concept. I would love to be a full time artist and that's what I aspire to be. It is very distressing having an episode and its one of my biggest fears. I ensure I take my medication every day as I know the risks of not taking them. Am I a paranoid schizophrenic I would like to think not, I bet many people I have spoken to me and have no idea of my mental health problems unless I am willing to share them. I am not ashamed of my episodes its just down to 2 things a genetic vulnerability and my environment. The stresses I was going through. I am convinced I would have never had a single episode if I had never been through so much stress. I understand this condition is passed on through the generations or maybe its just the vulnerability. I have two beautiful, caring and intelligent little boys and I do hope to God they never have to go through what I have endured. I think they have a 10% chance however, everyone has a 1% chance in any case. I am normal, I'm no freak. I think the NHS spends 10 billion year on treating schizophrenia and the US 100 billion. So I am not alone. I have a community psychiatric nurse who supports me and gives me hope. If I remain on medication I don't think I will have another episode. Shame about the slight weight gain but what would you rather have your figure or your mind? The 18th century voice hearing was regarding as divine intervention only western psychiatry in the 19th has changed all that. If you have suffered an episode good luck with your recovery. David x

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David Cozy75 said on 20 February 2014

(Part 1) Hello, My name is David. I have suffered two severe episodes of psychosis the first time was at the age of 34 in 2010 and the second in 2011. I have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, to be honest I am not surprised with the symptoms I was exhibiting. I heard multiple voices maybe I 100 different distinctive voices from friends, family members, work colleagues and famous people. I was delusional, confused and very scared. Sadly there is a history of psychosis in my family which prior to my episode I was not aware of or had any understanding. I had no previous history of mental health problems however I endured a prolonged period of stress due to the breakdown in the relationship with my less and a lot of pressure at work. Eventually this was too much for me to cope with and I had my first episode or breakdown. My voices were complex and eventually had me convinced I lived in a parallel world. I experienced touch, hearing and sight hallucinations. I was extremely poorly and the best place for me was in a secure mental health hospital. Its a massive shock at first, try and ignore the diagnoses as this gives you no hope. The support of the NHS staff has been fantastic, I can't praise them enough for all their hard work. My first episode lasted 2 to 3 weeks and after 6 months of being on the medication I decided to come off this was a huge mistake as 8 months later I had a second more severe episode. This time my multiple voices had me convinced I was Jesus and on a quest from God. During my first and 2nd episode I learned to have rules of engagement, use meditation to control the voices. I realize this condition affects about 1% of the worlds population. Its more common than diabetes. Medication is affective for around 33% of patients. I have hope for my future, I love painting. I can have cognitive problems particularity concentrating. I can become restless and suffer on occasions with insomnia. I can become anxious however >>>>>

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althea 1 said on 20 October 2013

I currently have a depo injection called flupentixol, the injection hurts. I used to be on olanzapine tablets, but I put on almost 5 stones in weight because of the medication. I used to be a size 10, but now i'm a size 18-20. I have realised that exercise doesn't help when i'm on the medication. I used to be 9 stones, now i'm almost 14 stones. What is the best solution for psychotic thoughts, because that happens to be the problem I have had for the past couple of years. I also hear voices, who threaten me often. The doctor and the care coordinator tell me not to worry about the weight I have gained, because having a healthy mind is more important than being overweight, but I don't like being overweight, I have tried exercise but I couldn't lose weight, I even tried to eat celery for lunch, but I didn't lose weight. There is a tablet called aripriprizole that doesn't cause putting on weight, I tried it earlier this year but I ended up having the side effects :blurred vision, feeling dizzy, horrible thoughts. I wish I could come off the medication, because I have to have a sleep tablet at night because the injection affects sleep pattern, but people keep swapping those sleep tablets to placebos so sometimes I go a long time without sleep.

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croydon boy said on 06 April 2013

Hi I just want to ask if how much is the xeplion drug here in London United Kingdom???... I am taking sustenna invega here in the philippines and xeplion is the other name for it. I am patient with schizophrenia here in the philippines and I am planning to work in united kingdom soon. I just want to ask if how much is xeplion 100 mg drug in london united kingdom. I badly need it when im there for one month it is for my maintenance

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chief123 said on 16 October 2012

i as a teenager was a bit crazy and used to for example make deals with god in my head, draw all over walls religious stuff and once smashed my head thruogh a window.
But only after smoking skunk a few times a week at about 19 for a few months did i get paraniod. i thought cameras in my room, hear vioces sometimes at night, i coulnt trust even family thought everone was lying all the time and would fall out with friends and havnt made new friends as i think stuff like my drinks been spiked.
even a year after not smoking for a year at all and barely drinking i got like this again last winter [thought i was on telly]. I now just get bad anxiety but feel bad somedays.

I get better over a long perieod staying at home, exercising everyday and trying to do something usefull even though it feels hard and i get very anxious and bad thoughts but im now ready to go work again volunteering eventually and if id have had drugs and treatment etc i dont think i would ever have recovered to this extent, sleep and exercis are the keys.

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C1234 said on 21 March 2012

Dear user656716 and user651357,

The best place to go might be your local GP. If you tell them what you're thinking and they agree, they will refer you to a specialist. Often you'll be referred to an Early Intervention Team. They can offer lots of help, like the right medicines, therapies, and also support for your families and people who care about you. Getting this sort of treatment early can make a huge difference, and they will be very supportive and won't judge you. If you google for your local team, you might be able to phone them directly to ask for their advice too.
Usesr656716 going to the gp on your own, esp when you are worried about being ill is scary! Would your friend go with you, or is there someone else you could ask? You could also chat with the gp about how and when to tell your parents, if you want.
Rethink is a great charity, and you cou ld also check out their website ... They do lots of things to support families and friends too.
Good luck, and I hope it all goes really well for you both.

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Kerri93 said on 15 March 2012

Nass66 - I am currently writing an assignment on schizophrenia for my college course and i read what you have wrote up researching the condition, if you look at the following website you will find that many people with the condition are able to live their life normally without hopsilisation.

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User651357 said on 02 March 2012

Hi I have been having some problems and after researching on here I now very strongly believe I may have skitzophrenia. Do I have to go to a mental health hospital to confirm this or could I go to local doctors or hospital?

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nass66 said on 10 January 2012


My brother diagnosed 10 years ago, since then he has never hospitalized but taking daily medication, the side effect of medication is another dilemma for the family, he sleeps for long hours and have dripping a lot water from his mouth while he is in bed .
I have question: are these people ever gets treated %100?
Can they marry and have normal life and experience fatherhood?
I am so worried about him and don't know how can I help him?
Thank you

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twinkle123 said on 06 November 2011

User590633 yes you need to find your mum some help, my brother and my mum have schizophrenia aswell, it's really hard to deal with as my brother has been ill like this for the past 10 years and hes always in and out of hospital and my mum still hasnt received treatment yet because she doesnt think she has any sort of illness but it is obvious that its schizophrenia. you should go to your mums gp and they can arrange for a psychiatrist to see your mum, or if it gets really bad one day, ring an ambulance if u cant get ahold of anyone else...just because she gets treatment doesnt mean she will be locked up, even if she is sectioned it will only be for a few months at the most depending on the severity of her illness...

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User590633 said on 07 September 2011

Could someone help me, i think my mum may have Schizophrenia, from a few years before she had me, which would mean atleast 25 years.. she has never been treated. We dont have a relationship at all, and has admitted to me lately she hears voices (but only sometimes) and that they are 'bothering her' she talks to herself constantly 24/7, gets up in the middle of the night, crashing her car into things as she is distracted. Im 21 and really want to get her some help as i would like to get to know my 'mum' and its getting quite dangerous, can somebody tell me who i am supposed to go to? her doctor or? My dad wont help and ignores he doesnt want her to get locked up, but it is not fair on me or my dad and is very stressful, and im also scared shes gonna have a bad accident, if it was me i would want help, this is no sort of life for her, i dont know what to do, please help me.

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Jasmine1994 said on 28 July 2011

My mum was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, aroung 10 years ago and has been in and out of mental health hospitals aroung 6 times, everytime she comes out she seems alot better but after a few weeks she get porly again. I love her to bits but its so hard coping with her illness.

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chatsubo said on 06 April 2011

User527074 - I believe that most of the information in this article came from NICE Guidelines on the topic, which would probably be more impressive to your tutors, in terms of refs:

standard version here:

more in-depth version here

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User527074 said on 08 February 2011

Is there any way i can find who wrote this article please, i need the name for my coursework reference. thanks x

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